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Jamie Cortland

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Tips for Writers
by Jamie Cortland   

Last edited: Friday, October 31, 2003
Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2003

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Especially for aspiring authors of either fiction or non-fiction

When I began writing for publication twelve years ago, no one had ever told me the secrets of becoming a published author. Below are some tips that will
speed you on your way.

Before you begin your novel or story, read your targeted publisher's submission guidelines. Make certain they accept the genre you plan to write. You will also want to know how many words they require, if they prefer single or double spacing, word, rtf, or word perfect. If you're writing romance, does the publisher require a formula novel? Most do. If you don't know what that is, now is a good time to find out.

I would suggest working with an outline, even a loosely knitted one. It may change as you go along, but, at least, know where you're going with your story. Don't worry if a minor character suddenly becomes a major character...that happens a lot, but if it does, someone may need to fade out of the picture.

What kind of printer do you have? Most publishers, even of poetry, require manuscripts be printed by a laser printer.

You're almost ready to begin. Remember to open and close each chapter with a hook. Don't allow your reader to set your book down for a moment. Keep them up all night! They may be late for work the next morning but, at least, they will be recommending your book.

Find a critique group.

Attend conferences, workshops, local chapter meetings of your writer's group. Join a national or state writers group like The Florida Writer's Association, The Romance Writers of America, The National Writer's Association or the National Association of Women Writers. You don't need to be a published author to join any of these groups, but they will help you along the way.

Write Every day. Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite; even Hemmingway did.

Avoid using cliche's.

Finally, you're novel's finished. Set it aside for a month; then read it again. More than likely, you will want to re-write or at least, edit.

Have a professional editor edit your work before you submit to a publisher.
After it's edited and polished, go to the post office and mail it. Don't let it set on your shelf for a year. Remember to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope (sase). You will want to know your manuscript has been received. Enclose a self addressed stamped postcard with the title of your work, received by, and date received. They will appreciate this ever so much more than several anxious telephone calls.

Now, it's time to celebrate! You've done something to be proud of and you've moved closer to realizing your dream of becoming a published author.

Web Site: Weslynn McCallister, Author

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Reviewed by Cynthia Borris
Excellent advice and I agree - never let your finished manuscript sit on the shelf. Life is a forward motion. Get your work out there.

Thanks for the tips!

Reviewed by William Neven
Great advice! Trying to write without an outline is like trying to drive a car on a long trip without checking under the hood, tire pressure, etc. It's good to hear you've been able to mail out your books without the use of an agent. [I will have to make a decision about pursuing that, myself, within the next few months.] Also - though currently out of the country - I am a member of a writers group in Fort Myers [though I used to live a few blocks away from SPJC many moons ago.] Again, thanks for relating your personal experiences and advice especially with regard to keeping those readers turning those pages.
Reviewed by Laurie Anthony
Thanks for your suggestions and helpful hints! I self-published my two books, but I am trying to find a publisher for my children's book, Saturday's Cups. Your suggestions are very informative!
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